The Brits and their ukuleles are coming to Saint Benedict's Escher Auditorium

George Hinchliffe’s The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is making a return visit to St. Joseph on April 14.

The George Hinchliffe's Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be taking the stage at 7:30 p.m. April 14 at the Escher Auditorium at the College of Saint Benedict.
Contributed / Allison Burke

ST. JOSEPH — It has been nearly five years since the last visit to Collegeville by the George Hinchliffe’s The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain . The 2018 show was so popular that Tanya Gertz, executive director of Fine Arts programming for St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict , set aside a date for their return years beforehand.

"We've had this date on hold for them for three years to ensure we would actually get them," Gertz said.

Over her career, Gertz has booked the Ukulele Orchestra three times, and each time the show has been entertaining, novel and just plain fun.

"They are an unique delight," Gertz said.

The orchestra will play the 1,000-seat Escher Auditorium at Saint Benedict's at 7:30 p.m. April 14. Tickets range in price from $8 for SJU/CSB students to $42 for regular tickets. They can be purchased online through the college.


"It is going to be a fantastic night, and I hope lots of people will be there and leave smiling and happy," Gertz said.

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The George Hinchliffe's Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is made up of 13 ukulele musicians from Great Britain. They play a wide range of genres, and are known for their fun and unique performances.
Contributed / Allison Burke

The Ukulele Orchestra was formed back in 1985 by founding members George Hinchliffe and Kitty Lux, who still play with the group today. Eleven other ukulele musicians make up the orchestra, bringing decades of experience and talent to the stage. They have played across the globe on some of the most famous stages including the Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York.

"These are musicians to take seriously but not too seriously," Gertz said. "They are filled with wit and humor, and will make (the audience) laugh."

While some people might envision beaches and tropical locales when they hear and see a ukulele, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will take audiences on a much more varied musical journey — including jazz, pop, rock and even movie themes. But all these different genres will be performed only using various sizes of ukuleles.

"They play music you know, and do something with it you never knew you needed to hear," Gertz said. "You will laugh, you will be surprised and feel connected to the people you are there with."

One of the highlights of the concert will be the chance for local ukulele players to join in the music-making with the orchestra. The orchestra provided the college with the sheet music for the chorus of the song "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk. The music can be found on the event webpage . Those who play the ukulele can learn the music and bring their instrument to the concert.

At the 2018 concert, Gertz said there were probably 200 people with ukuleles in the audience. She called it one of the top five experiences she has seen in fine arts programming.

"To have all of those ukuleles come out, every age group, pull them out and play with them, it was awesome," Gertz said, and she can't wait to see how many take part this time.


The orchestra will be inviting local ukulele musicians to bring their instruments to the show and play along.
Contributed / Allison Burke

It is an opportunity like this, to bring unique fine arts experiences to the region, that Gertz feels is the mission of the Fine Arts Series at SJU/CSB. She wants people to be able to see, hear and learn from groups from around the world.

"We are committed to bringing high-caliber artists. We really want to nurture people's ability to be curious, to explore incredible things they may not have seen before," Gertz said.

Ticket sales for the show have been strong, and Gertz urges those interested to purchase their seats soon. The last time the orchestra was in town, the show sold out. Gertz believes the audience will have a great time and get to see a very special musical group.

"It is going to be a lot of fun," Gertz said. "Grab your ticket and be part of it."

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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